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Carnival Miracle Cruise Review
Mexican Riviera, April 11, 2015
by Keith Henderson
My wife and I sailed
on the Carnival Miracle leaving on April 11th, 2015 out of Long
Beach, CA as a 7-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera. The cruise left
Long Beach with stops in Mexico at the ports of Cabo San Lucas,
Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta before returning to Long Beach. It was
our 8th Carnival cruise (24th overall). We have sailed on NCL 15
times and Royal Caribbean once.
We chose a west coast cruise out of Long Beach to revisit the
Mexican Riviera and see some games at Dodger Stadium in nearby Los
Angeles. The ship’s itinerary would let us visit Mazatlán for the
first time. We had sailed on the Carnival Miracle a few years ago
out of New York, so this was be the first time we would sail the
same Carnival ship more than once. One thing that interested us was
that the Miracle was to go through a dry dock and upgrades a month
before we sailed on her. We were curious how those upgrades would
add to our cruise experience.
Arrival in Long Beach
We flew into Long Beach airport from JFK in New York arriving at
6:00 pm the day before our cruise. As we were about to land, we
could spot the Carnival Inspiration at the cruise port. After
gathering our luggage, we went to the taxi stand to get a ride to
our hotel for the overnight stay. We had hoped to get a hotel near
the cruise port, but it was the weekend before the Long Beach Grand
Prix car races and all of the hotels in that area had rates that
were double or more than their normal rates. So we decided to book a
hotel that was closer to the airport. We stayed at the Comfort Inn &
Suites located on East Willow in Long Beach.
It was a short 3 mile cab ride to the hotel. After checking in, we
walked across the street for some burgers at a fast food place and
then to get some drinks at a supermarket located there. We were
tired from our flight, so we just headed back to our room to relax
and start to adjust to the west coast time zone.
Day 1 – Embarkation Day
It was a sunny day with temps starting in the 50's F and rising to
the low 70’s F in the afternoon.
We got up and went downstairs for the breakfast buffet in the hotel.
After breakfast, we walked across the street to a 24 hour pharmacy
to pick up some last minute items. When we checked out, the desk
clerk called for a cab to come and pick us up. The cab arrived
within 5 minutes and the ride to the cruise terminal took less than
10 minutes as we hopped onto a highway that took us to the cruise
We had received several e-mails and robo-phone calls from Carnival
asking us to arrive between 12:30 pm and 01:30 pm. But, we had to
check out of our hotel by 11:00 am. So we figured we would take our
chances in going directly to the cruise port from the hotel.
We arrived at the cruise terminal at 11:00 am. It is located next
door to the retired cruise ship, the Queen Mary, which is now a
floating hotel. The cruise terminal building itself is a large white
dome structure that was originally built to house the Spruce Goose,
the world's largest wooden plane built by Howard Hughes. The plane
had been sold to another museum which had it moved to their location
in Oregon several years ago. They converted the large structure into
a cruise terminal.
There were quite a few people already waiting in line to get into
the terminal building. I queued up to the line while my wife found a
seat under the shade of the canopy structure outside the terminal
building. The line was moving very slowly and after being in line
for about 45 minutes they announced that passengers for specific
deck assignments (including ours) could now move from the line
outside and enter the terminal building itself to form a new line.
When we walked into the terminal building, there was a short line
for security before lining up for the sign-in process. It took
another 40 minutes before we reached a clerk to check in. I had
previously registered on line and provided all of our information,
so we only needed to wait for our keycards and to have our photos
taken for the ID match of the keycard. Next, we walked to the door
leading to the pier. We finally walked onto the ship in about one
and one half hours after arriving at the cruise port. It seemed like
they did not have enough personnel to do the processing of
passengers. I can see why they were asking people to come at
staggered times, although most passengers we spoke with had the same
story as we had. They either had to leave their hotel or they had
just arrived straight from an airport with no place elsewhere to go
to. I would have walked next door to visit the Queen Mary if we did
not have a carry-on bag to pull around.
We tried to head up to our cabin on deck 7 to drop off our carry-on.
It was an interior cabin (room 7217) which was mid-ship near the
mid-ship stairwell. But when we got to our deck, the doors to the
hallways leading to the cabins were closed. We did not hear any
announcements regarding the time they would be available for us to
enter. We headed up top-side to get a quick lunch at the buffet and
to explore a little before going to our room around 1:30 pm to find
that the room was cleared. We dropped off our carry-on and
discovered that our small fridge in the cabin was not working (we
had brought a 12 pack of diet Coke with us). We made a call to the
front desk and they said that someone would be up to our cabin by
the next day if not sooner. After the call, we did some more
exploring of the ship.
The safety muster was scheduled for 4:00 pm. At 3:30 pm, we went to
our cabin to find that both our suit cases had arrived. We quickly
unpacked and then headed to our designated muster station. We did
not have to bring our lifejackets to the muster, but had to stand
outside in the hot sun for about 20 minutes as we waited for other
passengers to arrive and then listen to the safety instructions.
After the drill, we headed back topside to find a spot in the aft
Serenity area for the 5:00 pm sail away.
The ship did not leave until about 5:30 pm when it pulled away from
the pier and went past several container cargo ships waiting to be
unloaded at the nearby industrial terminals. Off to our right, we
could see Catalina Island as we headed south towards Mexico.
For dining, the Miracle has only one main dining room called the
Bacchus Restaurant that has two levels. For this cruise, we chose
the “Your Time Dining” option. So, when we wanted to eat at the MDR,
we would go to the upper deck of the restaurant to be seated. The
dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual.
For tonight, we decided to just grab a bite in the buffet for
The one show for the evening was the “Welcome Aboard Show” show in
the Phantom Theatre at 7:30 pm. The Phantom Theatre holds about
1,000 people and has a variety of seating with most having good
views. The show was hosted by the Cruise Director, Cory Rogers. He
was very funny with his self effacing humor as he described himself
as a combination of Drew Carey and the Family guy. He did a fun
audience participation game and then had two of the comedians on
board come out for a few minutes. Eddie Capone and Dwight Slade were
After the show, we went down to the Red Frog Pub and listen to the
house band that plays there each night called the "Hot Tub Rhyme
Machine". The band, consisting of 4 musicians and two singers, were
assembled by Carnival and then after a little time to rehearse
together came on board. They were very good and could play a wide
variety of music styles.
The Red Frog Pub was one of the new changes from the dry dock
renovations. It replaced the Frankie and Johnnie's Jazz Club and was
much larger than the one they put into the last Carnival ship we had
sailed on (the Freedom). A huge bonus for us was that the Red Frog
Pub was smoke free which was a big problem for us the last time we
sailed on the Miracle. The Red Frog Pub on the Miracle only offered
drinks. They did not have snack food to munch on or any kind of food
menu like the one on the Carnival Freedom.
In addition to the house band in the Red Frog Pub, they had solo
guitarists and a musical duo playing a variety of music in different
spots on the ship. They also had a DJ providing dance music in the
disco nightclub (Frankenstein’s Lab). In Sam's Piano Bar, they had a
pianist playing sing-along songs.
Down in the Punchliner Comedy Club located at the Mad Hatter’s Ball
lounge on Deck 1 forward thy had the comedian, Dwight Slade
performing this evening for one show at 10:45 pm. We ended our first evening on the ship by going to the comedy show
and thought he did a good job.
Day 2 – Day at Sea
It was a mostly sunny day as we sailed down along Baja California
with temps in the 70’s F and a strong cool breeze. The waves were
relatively calm for the day.
We slept in, waking up at 9:00 am. We checked the TV to find that we
were halfway down the Baja coast moving at 21 knots.
We headed up for breakfast in the buffet at 9:30 am after which we
went to the Phantom theatre to listen to a "Fun Ashore" presentation
given by Cory the cruise director at 10:30 am. His presentation gave
an overview of the ports we would visit, information about time
changes for the ports, and as a bonus for staying through the
presentation, you could win a free excursion for two for each port
we were to visit. I was interested in the time zone changes and was
glad to hear that they would be changing the ship's time to align
with the local time. It is confusing when they do not match while in
We enjoy playing trivia and attended a few around the noon hour
before grabbing a quick lunch.
After that, I changed and went for a run on the deck 3 exterior
promenade. They were only a few people on the promenade, so it was a
After getting back to the cabin, I saw that they had replaced the
fridge and we could use it for our soda.
The Miracle has 3 main pools. The Ulysses Pool and Siren’s Pool are
found mid-ship on the Lido deck while the Serenity Pool is found
aft. The Ulysses Pool has a retractable roof cover and this is where
all the poolside activities occurred.
Other activities occurring this day were a line dance class, a
gemstone seminar, and a bean bag tournament.
For dinner in the Bacchus Restaurant, the dress code for this
evening was Cruise Elegant. On the menu was lobster and prime rib.
We decided to go to the Bacchus Restaurant for an early dinner. My
wife (a fan of meat and potatoes) ordered the prime rib while I
ordered a fish fillet. We both agreed that our meal in the buffet at
lunchtime was better.
The wait staff for our meal were terrific and friendly. They seemed
to have worked out the kinks with the "Your Time Dining" as
everything was delivered in a timely and orderly manner. A big
improvement compared to our other recent Carnival cruises.
The evening’s entertainment in the Phantom Theatre was a new
Playlist Production recently added after the dry dock. It was called
"80's Pop to the Max" and the show consists of 4 singers singing to
a music soundtrack while large video screens behind them show
various scenes. They do not have full blown production shows with
both singers and dancers along with a live show band anymore. We had
seen the new Playlist shows on our last Carnival cruise and were not
impressed. We decided to go to the Punchliner Club to see the
For tonight, Eddie Capone had 3 shows (1 PG and 2 18+) and Dwight
Slade had 2 shows (1 PG and 1 18+). We sat down for one of each. At
the end of each show, they asked everyone to leave the club, but we
stayed along with quite a few others. We thought the shows were
To end the evening, we stopped by the Red Frog Pub to listen to the
band playing songs from the 80's. As we walked in, they were playing
"Jessie's Girl" and Cory the CD was doing the singing and he was
great. Most of the CD staff was in the pub mingling and dancing with
guests. It was a fun time.
Day 3 – Cabo San Lucas
It was a sunny day temps in the low 80’s F and a comfortable breeze.
We were scheduled to arrive at Cabo San Lucas at 11:00 am and a
departure time of 7:00 pm. This port would require us to use tenders
to go ashore since the port does not have piers that can accommodate
large cruise ships.
The local currency is the Mexican Peso where One $ USD equaled about
14 pesos. Every place accepted US dollars, but most would give
change in pesos. Most signs showed costs in pesos, so we would
divide that cost by 14 to get the USD equivalent.
This would be our second time to Cabo, a small city of 70,000
people. The first time we were there, we spent our day in port
wandering around the area near the marina. So we were curious about
seeing the area outside of the city. We had booked a Carnival
excursion for this port of call. It was one called “Coastal
Highlights” ($50 each). After having breakfast in the buffet, we
watched as we approached the port by 9:00 am viewing the Arch, a
famous rock formation located at the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas
known as Land's End near Lover's Beach. It is at this point the
Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. We spotted about 20 or more
dolphins jumping and flipping along the wake of the ship as we
neared the spot that we would anchor. Some passengers said that they
saw a few whales earlier.
Shortly after we passed the Arch around 10:30 am, we dropped anchor
in the bay and the tenders from the harbor were getting ready to
bring passengers ashore. We were the only ship in port that day.
Because we had booked an excursion, we went to the Phantom Theatre
to meet our group after which we would be called to go to a tender.
Priority was given to excursion passengers, platinum members, and
suite guests before open seating for all others would be available.
They made the first call for tenders at 11:25 am. We were told to
arrive at the Phantom Theater before 11:45 am to meet our group and
that we had a scheduled 12:30 pm departure on shore. We arrived at
11:40 am and they called for our group along with 2 other tour
groups at 11:45 am.
After walking down to the gangway, we got onto a tender boat from
the harbor. It took about 15 minutes to make it to the docks at the
marina of Cabo San Lucas to go ashore. As we approached the docks,
we spotted several large sea lions swimming in the waters near us.
Once ashore, they had a bus waiting nearby for our excursion. There
was a full bus of 40 people on the tour.
We did find out that our ship's time was one hour different than the
local time! I did not understand why they did not have us change our
ship's time to match the local time in Cabo the night before we
Our first stop was at a glass blowing factory located on the edge of
the city. Miraculously, the building survived the recent hurricane
with little damage. Inside, we watched a craftsman create wonderful
glass figurines in just a few minutes for each one. One was a
hummingbird flying into a flower while the other was a sea turtle
drinking from a bottle of tequila. Both were very colorful. After
the demonstration, we had 15 minutes to wander around the factory to
The next stop was at a spot on the eastern side of the bay area
known as Capo Bello. We went to an Italian restaurant known as
“Sunset Da Mona Lisa” which was situated atop a large cliff area
overlooking the bay with wonderful views of the city, Lands End, the
Arch, and the ocean. We could easily see our ship anchored in the
bay. We stayed here for 30 minutes enjoying the views and a
After leaving Capo Bello, we drove along the east coast of Baja
California on a highway that would take us to San José Del Cabo. The
diverse views with the blue waters of the Sea of Cortez on one side
and the desert scenery on the other made for an interesting ride.
Along the way, our guide, Paul gave us information regarding the
area. He is a lifelong resident of Cabo and was very proud of the
region and its history.
It took about 30 minutes to reach San José Del Cabo, the
municipality seat for the Los Cabos region of the Mexican state of
Baja California Sur. With a population of 70,000, it is a small
community with a plaza area lined with art shops, restaurants, the
city hall, and a mission church.
As we got off the bus, our guide took us to the church known as The
Mission San Jose del Cabo Anuiti (Misión de San José del Cabo Anuiti)
where he told us of the history of the church. It is a simple
structure, but beautiful in its own way.
After the tour of the church, we were told we had one hour to
explore the art shops and restaurants before we would head back to
Cabo San Lucas. We walked around the immediate area to shop and then
went to a restaurant called Molly's (across from the church) for
some cold beers. Several fellow passengers were already eating at
Molly's and said the food was delicious.
On the ride back to Cabo, the tour guide showed pictures of the Cabo
area before all of the development that has occurred over the last
We arrived back in Cabo by the marina area by 3:30 pm ship's time.
From the parking lot, we took a quick walk to visit the Cabo Wabo
Cantina to check it out. The Cabo Wabo is owned by the red rocker,
Sammy Hagar and their website advertised live music all day. When we
got there, the place was dead with only a few people in the bar area
and no band playing on the stage which was disappointing.
We walked back to the pier and got in line for a return tender boat
to the ship. It took about 15 minutes before we were on a tender
heading back. Along the way, we saw some sea lions and pelicans
among the fishing boats and large yachts anchored in the marina.
Once on board, we headed up to the serenity area (adults only) to
chill out and relax. We stayed there until after the 7:00 pm sail
away watching a spectacular red sunset setting behind the hills and
mountains of Cabo San Lucas.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual.
We went to the Horatio's Buffet for dinner before checking out the
The main show in the Phantom Theatre was a magic/illusion show by
Bobby Borgia. We were not interested in seeing a magic show so we
chose to attend a few comedy shows in the Punchliner Club.
For tonight, they had the same two comedians as the night before.
Eddie Capone had 2 shows (1 PG and 1 18+) and Dwight Slade had 2
shows (1 PG and 1 18+). We sat through both of Dwight's shows and
the last show by Eddie. After each show, they asked people to leave
the theater but we stayed along with others. None of the shows were
full of people, so we did not feel guilty for staying. We thought
all of the shows were good, just not great.
Later on, we stopped by the Red Frog Pub to listen to classic rock
songs by the house band playing there. The pub was full of people
and the band was great. The CD staff were in there as well.
For tonight, we had a notice that asked us to change our clocks
forward by one hour to match the local time for Mazatlán (which was
the same as Cabo San Lucas). I still do not understand why they did
not do that there night before Cabo, oh well.
Day 4 – Mazatlán
It was a sunny day with temps around the mid 80’s F and humid.
We were scheduled to arrive in Mazatlán at 8:00 am and a departure
time of 5:00 pm. We were to be the only ship in port that day.
This was our first visit to Mazatlán and had signed up via the
internet for a city tour with a local operator called Mazatlán Tours
by Johann and Sandra ($30 each) where we would meet the tour bus at
9:15 am by the cruise terminal for 4 hour tour of the city center.
I woke up early and went upstairs to get some tea for us at 6:00 am.
It was still dark and I could see the city lights in the distance.
By 7:00 am the ship pulled into the bay, spun around, and was docked
by 7:30 am. By 8:00 am, passengers were disembarking.
In the cruise terminal building we were met by several people
offering tours and taxi services. So if we had not made plans, there
would have been many options.
The pier area is an industrial area lined with shipping containers
and cargo ships. To get from the ship to the cruise terminal
building, you had to take a tram for the short trip to the cruise
terminal gates. The trams were provided for free by the port
authorities. They would not let you walk past the barriers put
around the gangway area. In the distance, you could see the old city
center with its cathedral as well as the huge brewery for El
Pacifico Beer. Both were close enough to walk to if you wanted to do
After having breakfast in the buffet, we headed down to the gangway
at 8:30 am to go to the meeting point for our tour. When we hopped
onto a tram, a person in a royal blue t-shirt came aboard and
explained that he was an American ex-pat who now lives in Mazatlán.
He told us that he and several other Americans volunteer as a
welcome committee for the city and to offer advice and guidance to
visitors to the city of over 400,000 people. The name Mazatlán means
"land of the deer" in the native Nahuatl language. The symbol for
the city has a deer head on it. The city is located in the Mexican
state of Sinaloa.
Our tour ticket mentioned Vista Tours, so when we asked where to
meet their bus, every person politely pointed us to an area with
umbrella covered tables near the edge of the complex by the parking
lot. At just after 9:00 am, a person came up to the area holding a
sign saying Vista Tours. Our bus had 16 guests from the ship
assigned to it. By 9:15 am, we were off on our tour.
Our first stop was at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
(Basilica de La Inmaculada Concepcion) located in the old city area.
Our guide, Marco took us inside to give us a tour and told us of its
history and the significance of the symbols around the church. It
was a beautiful building with interesting architecture. After the
church tour, we had 15 minutes to walk about before we would walk to
our next stop of the tour. We walked around taking pictures while
some people went to the cathedral's shop to buy religious items.
From the church, we walked 2 blocks to a large indoor market called
the Mercado Pino Suárez that was built in 1899. Here we had 30
minutes to walk up the various aisles to look at souvenirs,
clothing, fruits, vegetables, and meats. The place was very colorful
and vibrant as we walked around from one area to another. Some
vendors were very pushy, but most just said "buenos días" as we
After leaving the market, we hopped back on the small bus to go the
shore to see the cliff divers. When we arrived along the Malecón
(boulevard) area where the divers were located, we parked and then
were taken to a viewing spot. All the while, we were approached by
persons asking for tips for the divers. Once the divers got the
signal that they had received money, each one took turns leaping the
50 meters into a shallow inlet of water, timing the dive with the
incoming surf. We stayed long enough to view 4 dives.
After seeing the divers, we drove back into town to pass by a flower
market (most of the flowers came from Guatemala) and then a large
shrimp market (the city is known as the shrimp capital of the
world). We then went back to the shore and drove along the Malecón
(which is the largest in Mexico at 10 km). Along the way, we would
pass statues and Marco would tell us about them. We then stopped at
a jewelry store (free drinks and toilets) for 30 minutes. After
that, we drove along the shore to the Golden Zone (an area with
modern hotels and shops) where we stopped to visit a place that was
a mango distillery called Onilikan. Inside, we were given a brief
description of their products which they make from mangos or blue
agave. After that, we had free samples of the various drinks and had
a few minutes to walk around shopping.
For our final stop of the tour, we went to the edge of the Golden
Zone for a stop at a restaurant located on the beach called "Tony's
On the Beach". Here we spent over an hour sitting in the shade on an
open porch with a wonderful view of the water and a cool breeze. We
ordered a shrimp ceviche and beer. The ceviche serving was huge and
more than enough for us. We spoke with the tour guide who answered
questions about life in Mazatlán. We found out that the cost of
living there was less than half of the cost over in Cabo San Lucas.
Besides taxis and busses, we also saw interesting vehicles called a
pulmonia. They were an open air taxi that looked like a juiced up
golf cart. They are unique to Mazatlán.
The tour bus brought us back to the cruise terminal by 1:30 pm. As
we entered the cruise complex, we found a bar located in the center
plaza surrounded by shops. They had a DJ playing fun music (much
better than one on the ship) along with seats under the shade with
fans blowing all over. We decided to stop for some cold beer
listening to the music and chatting with other fellow passengers.
They were selling Jell-O shots of tequila and a lot of people were
enjoying those. It was a good time hanging out there.
We went to ship using the tram by 4:00 pm. Sail away was at 5:00 pm.
After grabbing a bite in the buffet, we headed over to the Serenity
area to hang out by the pool and hot tub.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual.
In the Phantom Theater, they had the second Playlist Production show
for the cruise. It is called "Heart of Soul". In this show, the
singers perform to songs by Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and other
Motown/soul Artists. It is okay, but not one of our favorite shows.
Down at the Red Frog Pub, the house band was playing Motown Music.
We ended our evening there.
For tonight, we had a notice that asked us to change our clocks
forward by one hour a second time to match the local time for Puerto
Day 5 – Puerto Vallarta
It was a day that was sunny in the mid 80’s F and very
humid compared to our last two port visits.
We were scheduled to arrive in Puerto Vallarta at 8:00 am and depart
at 8:00 pm.
We arrived at the dock at around 8:00 am and were the only ship
in port this day. The city has a population around 250,000 people
and is located in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
This was our second visit to the city. Our plans were to leisurely
explore areas near the cruise port on our own.
We went to the buffet for breakfast at 9:00 am before going to a
trivia game. After that, I went for a run on deck 10 which was clear
of people and lounge chairs since everyone was going off the ship
today. I was able to run complete loops for my 5K run.
We were walking off the ship by 11:30 am. As we walked through the
cruise terminal area, we came up to a rank of passenger vans
offering trips to various zones. We met a family of five that asked
if we were going to the Malecón and church area which we were. We
agreed to join up with them and the ride cost us $5 each.
Just a note about taxis in Puerto Vallarta. Just outside the cruise
terminal exit is a gas station at the corner of the main street that
leads towards the city center. Here you will find rows of yellow
taxis waiting to take you anywhere. The only hassle is that you have
to negotiate a price. The one tip I received was to ask them for a
price and then offer a price half of that. They will usually settle
for the lesser amount. From the cruise terminal to the Malecón &
church area should cost no more than $10 USD.
It took us about 15 minutes to reach the spot on the Malecón that
faces the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (La Iglesia de Nuestra
Senora de Guadalupe). This church has an iconic steeple structure.
It is one of a kind. It is faced by a large plaza with the city hall
off to one side. We walked into the church as they were starting the
noon mass. After the mass, we walked around to take pictures before
heading back to the Malecón where we took a left and walked towards
a large vendor market area. Here, the vendors were very aggressive
and made us feel uncomfortable, so we walked towards the beach and
over a large pedestrian bridge to an area known as the old town or
romantic zone. Here the road was lined with restaurants along the
beach and hotels on the other side. After walking a bit, we decided
to enter a restaurant called the Red Onion to sit in the shade and
have some cold beers while watching pelicans dive for fish competing
with fishermen casting for fish in the surf. It was a relaxing time.
We stayed there for about an hour before we decided to catch a cab
back to the ship. After meeting with few drivers, we found one to
take us back for $10 USD.
Just inside the cruise terminal complex, they had a few shops for
last minute souvenirs and a couple of bars offering drink specials.
Here, the beers were warm, so we headed back to the ship by 5:00 pm.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual.
We grabbed an early dinner in the buffet before going to the
serenity area to relax by the pool and hot tub. We stayed there for
the 8:00 pm sail away and were rewarded with a beautiful red sunset
that we sailed towards. The red sunlight reflected from the windows
of the many buildings along the shore. It was a beautiful sight.
The show per se for the evening was the Love and Marriage show held
in the Phantom Lounge at 10:15 pm hosted by Cory the CD. They had 3
couples up on the stage answering semi-embarrassing questions. It
was a fun show.
After the show, we went to the pool area for the Red Frog Beach
Party for a short while before ending our evening.
For tonight, we had a notice that asked us to change our clocks
backward by one hour to start the process of getting back to west
Day 6 – Day at Sea
It was a partly sunny day with temps in the 70’s F and a cool
Today, we slept in and did not make it to breakfast until 10:00 am.
After breakfast we attended a few trivia games that were all held in
the Fountainhead Café area.
By noon that day, we were near Cabo San Lucas and could see it off
in the distance. I went for a run on the deck 3 promenade again. It
was very peaceful down there.
After lunch in the buffet, we went back down to attend a few more
trivia games. While there, we had our first whale sighting. Someone
yelled out whale. My wife spotted it right away while I only saw the
tail going up in the air and then disappear under the water.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Elegant.
We decided to go to the Bacchus Restaurant for an early dinner at
5:45 pm. My wife ordered the flank iron steak while I ordered jumbo
shrimp (not very jumbo). Neither one of us were impressed with our
meals. My wife mentioned that her steak tasted the same as the prime
rib she had a few evenings ago. This time, our wait staff were just
OK. They were polite, but just seemed to be going through the
In the Phantom Theatre was a third Playlist Production show called
“88 Keys”. This show had the singers perform to piano playing hit
songs by Elton John, Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc. Gosh, we
really miss the full blown production shows.
Down in the Punchliner Comedy Club, they had two new comedians
performing. Both are actors and were recognizable. Steve White had 3
shows (1 PG and 2 18+) and Rondell Sheriden had 2 shows (1 PG and 1
18+). We sat through the first two PG shows and the first 18+ show
when everyone was asked to leave and that they meant everyone. As we
left the theater, we could see why. There was a long line of other
passengers that wanted to get into the club to see a show. We later
spoke with people that said that they never made it to any of the
comedy shows that night. They could have easily filled the Phantom
Theater with everyone that wanted to see those two comedians. They
were certainly more entertaining than the Playlist show.
We, once again, ended up at the Red Frog Pub to listen and dance to
the band that were playing disco songs this evening. Everyone was
having a great time along with the CD staff.
For tonight, we had a notice that asked us to change our clocks
backward by one hour once again to get us back to west coast time.
Day 7 – Day at Sea
It was a nice day with mostly sunny skies. The temps were in the low
70’s and calm seas.
By 9:30 am, we were making our way up the coast of Baja California
reaching a point called Guerrero Negro.
We spent the morning playing a few trivia games before and after
In the early afternoon, we went to use the indoor hot tub located in
the spa/gym area.
All day, they had plenty of activities for passengers to choose
from; art auctions, bingo, dance classes, shuffleboard and bean bag
At 4:30 pm, they had a VIFP reception for Past Guests (Gold,
Platinum, & Diamond) in the Phantom Theatre. They offered free
drinks and small hors d’oeuvres while the DJ played music. Cory and
his CD staff were there to welcome us along with some of the ship's
management staff. Cory then introduced a short film about the
history of Carnival and all of the ships they have had in their
fleet. After the film, they brought up the Diamond members for a
photo op. For this cruise, there were over 300 gold passengers, over
100 platinum, and 6 diamond. They did not have any of the Captain's
staff there or have any raffle prizes.
After the VIFP guest party, we went to our cabin to pack our luggage
which needed to be put outside of cabin between 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm
since we were not using the self assist disembarkation option.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual.
We went to the Horatio's buffet for our last dinner on the ship.
In the Phantom Theatre, the main show was a comedic juggler named
Sideshow Bert. We chose to see the comedians instead.
For tonight they had the same two comedians as the previous evening
with five shows to choose from: Steve White had 2 shows (1 PG and 1
18+) and Rondell Sheriden had 3 shows (1 PG and 2 18+).
We saw the PG show with Steve White and an 18+ show with Rondell
Sheriden which was hilarious. After the show, everyone had to leave
the room to let others in. Again, I think they could have filled the
Phantom Theater with people that wanted to see these shows.
In the Red Frog Pub, they had the house band playing along with the
two solo guitarists to provide non-stop continuous music for the
evening. We stayed there for a few hours before heading back to our
Disembarkation Day – Long Beach
It was a sunny day with temperatures in the low 70’s F.
We were scheduled to arrive in Long Beach by 9:00 am. Our
instructions had told us that we needed to be out of our cabin by
8:30 am. This was to allow the cabin stewards to have their cabins
cleaned and ready for new passengers later that day.
I went up to the buffet at 7:00 am to get some tea for us and saw
that we were already docked. We went to the buffet for breakfast at
At 8:00 am, they announced that the first wave of self-assist
passengers could start heading to the gangway. We headed back to our
cabin to pack our carry-on bag and then headed up to the serenity
area to wait for the announcement of when we could disembark.
At 9:00 am, they announced that the second wave of self-assist
passengers could disembark.
At 9:25 am, they made the first announcement for passengers with
checked bags could disembark.
At 10:30 am, they announced the numbers we were assigned could
disembark. We headed to an elevator to go down to deck 3 where we
found a long line of other passengers waiting to get off the ship.
It took us about 30 minutes to wind our way off the ship and into
the cruise terminal where we went through border patrol and then to
the luggage pick-up area.
After we found our luggage, we stepped outside and found a rank of
taxis immediately off to our left. In a few minutes, we were on our
way to the Long Beach Airport to pick up a rental car I had
reserved. We spent the rest of the day driving up to Los Angeles
where we walked around Hollywood Boulevard for an hour, checked into
a hotel on Sunset Boulevard, and then went to Dodger Stadium for
that night's game.
We stayed the night and attended the Sunday afternoon game at Dodger
Stadium before we went to Burbank where we had dinner and then
dropped off our rental car at the Bob Hope Airport to catch a
red-eye flight to JFK. Flying into Long Beach and then out of the
Bob Hope airport was very easy compared to the chaos of LAX airport.
I definitely recommend that. We had a celebrity sighting on the
flight when we spotted actress Joy Bryant from the TV series
"Parenthood" in line with us.
The Carnival Miracle was built in 2004 as part of the Spirit class
for Carnival and had dry dock renovations in April 2007, February
2009, January 2012, and March 2015. Her sister ships are the
Carnival Spirit, Carnival Legend, and Carnival Pride.
The theme of the ship is based on literary characters and we
discovered plenty of different ones around the ship including
Sherlock Homes, Hercule Poirot, and Robin Hood. The stairwells were
filled with paintings and crystal vases.
The large fitness center has two floors. There are a wide variety of
treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and other pieces of
equipment available at all times at no extra charge. All of the
equipment faced out to windows. They offered optional classes for a
fee. There was an indoor hot tub found here as well that was
available to everyone. The entrance to the gym was found in the spa
The Spa has several treatment rooms with separate locker rooms for
men and women along with steam rooms and saunas. They offered spa
treatment specials during port days. The Hair Salon is located there
The running track was found on the Sports deck. A sign posted stated
that it takes 15.2 laps to complete a mile. On the same Sports deck
was the mini-golf course and a small basketball court surrounded by
The best kept secret on the ship was the outside promenade on the
Atlantic deck. It wrapped around the ship from Great Gatsby’s on the
port side to the aft and back to the starboard side of Great
Gatsby’s which was about 2/3 of the ship. There were no deck chairs
to be found, which we thought was strange. We enjoyed walking along
this part of the ship where the only sound you heard was the waves
going by the ship. For my 5k runs, I only had to make 6 laps (port
to starboard and back to port) on this deck compared to 48 laps on
the sports deck where I would have had to dodge people playing mini
golf or just walking around. We would have enjoyed being able to sit
down in the shade on this deck and watch the waves go by. During the
course of the cruise, we rarely saw other people on this promenade.
As mentioned, the lido deck has three pools with two pools midship
and one aft. All are only 4 ft 6” deep. There are hot tubs next to
each pool. There was no cover over any of the pools to provide any
shade. On the Sports deck was a small kid’s pool not near anything
and the entrance to a water slide that did not end up in a pool. On
the sea days when it was sunny, the hot tubs that were mid ship were
filled with young kids along with toddlers in swim diapers. We
avoided those hot tubs. Even though there were rules published
against this and reserving chairs, there was no enforcement of them.
The adult-only Serenity area is found aft on the Lido Deck with a
swimming pool and a hot tub along with lounge chairs, hammocks, clam
shells, and a drinks only bar. The clam shells took up a lot of
space and blocked the aft view from this area.
Navigating the ship was far easier than on our previous Carnival
cruises. The Spirit class ships have the best layouts that we have
experienced on Carnival ships. I think this is because of having
just the one large main dining room that is situated aft.
The hallways with odd number cabins were on the starboard side while
the even numbered cabins were on the port side of the ship.
They did not have a bridge viewing room.
A nice quiet area of the ship with seats and views of the water is
found on the Atlantic deck forward. It is called Gatsby’s Garden
Interior Promenade. The port side of the promenade seemed to have
more foot traffic with people going to the kid's club and video game
room that were forward of them.
We thought that while the ship has a large atrium area, they could
use the space better. On deck 2, there is a lobby where they have a
bar with a small stage behind it for musicians. But, there were
limited seats and tables there. The rest of the area is a dance
floor. Then, on deck 3, they had a wraparound area that overlooks
the lobby below. But, it was totally filled by the photography
department instead of seats, tables, and maybe another bar.
The guest services desk and the tours desk were both located in the
atrium lobby on deck 2.
They had a disco bar that has a light-up dance floor. The entrance
to Frankenstein’s Lab was found next to the Alchemy Bar. You then
had to walk down a circular set of stairs to go to the dance floor
along with additional chairs and tables.
The main show room was the Phantom Theatre which holds about 1,000
passengers and has entrances on 3 decks. There are some poles to
contend with. We always found a seat for a show.
Laundrettes: There are 5 small laundry rooms located around the
ship. They had keycard operated washers and dryers along with an
ironing board and iron. They also had dispensers for soap packets.
Riviera Deck 1 - midship / across from 1219
Main Deck 4 - aft / across from 4230
Upper Deck 5 - aft / across from 5270
Empress Deck 6 - forward / across from 6102
Verandah Deck 7 - midship / across from 7267
We prefer inside cabins. With the Miracle, the inside cabins, ocean
view cabins, and most of the balcony cabins are all 185 square feet
inside. Our cabin (7217) was laid out in a left/right manner where
the beds faced the right wall instead on the cabin door which we
thought was better.
The cabin had more than enough room for the two of us. There were
three closets. Two came with bars with 10 hangars each while the
other closet had shelves. We stored our 2 large pieces of luggage
under the beds. There were two terry cloth robes for our use.
There is a safe and a small fridge in the cabin. The safe could only
be locked with a credit card or a driver’s license that had a
The bathroom had a shower with a cloth curtain with dispensers for
body wash and shampoo. There was a soap dish. We were surprised that
the shower area did not have a safety bar to hold on to.
The hair dryer was located in a drawer by the mirror and desk inside
the cabin. The desk had several drawers for added storage.
The location of the cabin was only a few steps from the mid-ship
stairwell. Going up to the Lido deck on deck 9 in the morning took
only a 2 deck walk. We try to do the stairs as much as we could. My
morning routine was to walk up to Horatio’s buffet with insulated
mugs to get our morning tea while getting ready to face the day.
There were several dining options on the Miracle.
For dinner, the Miracle has only one large main dining room with
assigned early and late seatings, the Bacchus Restaurant. It is
found aft on the ship and takes up two floors on decks 2 and 3. They
offer “Your Time Dining” which allowed you to show up at the
restaurant on deck 3 and when they had an available table you would
be seated for dinner.
In addition to the Bacchus for dinner, they have Horatio’s buffet
style restaurant on the Lido deck and Nick and Nora’s Steakhouse
found on the Sun Deck.
Inside Horatio’s, they had several stations which included an Asian
station, a Deli sandwich bar, a salad bar, 2 carvery stations that
offered different foods each day, and a 24 hour pizza bar. They also
had a coffee bar where you could buy Starbucks style of coffees.
While these stations in the buffet were all open for lunch, they did
not offer the Asian station and one of the carvery hot stations for
dinner. The Asian food station in the buffet was definitely the most
popular one during lunch with the longest lines. It is too bad it
was not open for dinner. The dessert selection in the buffet at
lunchtime was far greater than at dinner.
On one sea day, they had a station in Horatio’s used for a chocolate
bar with a variety of desserts and fruits being dipped in chocolate.
For breakfast, you had to go to Horatio’s buffet. They had extra
omelet stations set up at the pizza bar and other food stations.
For lunch, you could go to Horatio’s buffet inside and their grill
by the pool.
During breakfast in the lido buffet area, they had fountains with
OJ, Passa-Guava Juice, Apple Juice, and unsweetened ice tea along
with water. For the rest of the day, these fountains offered
lemonade, iced tea, and water.
We felt that that the food offerings during the lunchtime were as
good, if not better than options in the dining room for dinner.
The Steakhouse had an added fee of $35 per person and required a
reservation. Its dress code was cruise elegant every night except
for the evening we were in Puerto Vallarta with our 8:00 pm sail
They offered 24 hour room service with a limited menu.
There is a taste bar (no fee) just outside of the Skybox Sports Bar
and the Fountainhead coffee and pastry bar from 05:30 pm to 08:30
pm. Here they offered small samples of different types of food.
The Fountainhead Café on deck 2 forward offered coffees and pastries
for a fee.
For foodies, they also offered “The Chef’s Table”. For a fee of $75
per person, you would have a personal meal with the executive chef
who would provide a private galley tour and a multi-course meal for
a small group. You needed to make a reservation for this event.
They had several plans for internet service which included wi-fi
around the ship:
$0.75 per minute; $29 for 45 minutes; $59 for 120 minutes; $89 for 240
minutes; and $159 for 480 minutes.
There were plenty of spots on the ship to get alcoholic drinks.
On deck 1, there was the Mad Hatter's Ball Lounge.
On deck 2, there was the new added Alchemy Bar, the Metropolis Lobby
in the atrium, Mr. Lucky's Casino, the new Skybox Sports Bar, and
the new Red Frog Pub.
On deck3, you could go to the Gotham Lounge or Sam's Piano Bar.
On deck 9, you had the Serenity Bar located aft and the Odyssey Bar
located between the two main pools
We are beer drinkers and Carnival offered beer bucket specials where
you would get 4 beers (mix and match) with a $2 discount for the
Carnival did offer a craft beer on tap called the Thirsty Frog Red
Ale. It is ok, but at least they are trying to offer something other
the usual mass produced beers on tap.
Big craft beer bonus for me was that for this cruise they had two
Sam Adams beers (the Lager and the Rebel IPA) and a Sierra Nevada
They did have daily drink specials as well. There were some martini
tastings on a few occasions.
Fun Ship 2.0 Renovations
Before we sailed, we had read about the planned renovations. For our
cruise, not all of the improvements had been implemented. We spoke
to a technician who said that they were trying to roll out a new one
each week. Here is the list of the planned items:
Red Frog Pub – This was on board replacing the former Frankie and
Alchemy Bar – This was on board replacing the former Jeeves Lounge
Playlist Productions – a total of four shows; 88 Keys, 80's Pop To
the Max, Getaway Island, and Heart Of Soul – For our cruise they had
all up and running except for Getaway Island which was scheduled to
start during the next few cruises. These replaced the full
production shows like Ticket to Ride and Generations.
Seuss At Sea – This was not available on our cruise.
Hasbro, The Game Show – This was not available on our cruise.
Cherry On Top – On board, replacing the former Formalities Shop
Sky Box Sports Bar – On board, replacing the former Maguire’s Sports
Spin U – I did not seen any notice of this on our cruise. But, there
were very few teenagers on board this particular cruise.
Not included in the 2.0 Renovations on the Miracle and sorely missed
were the Guy's Burger Joint and the Blue Iguana Burrito Bar. These
would have been welcome additions to the ship as we had them on our
last cruise and they were the most popular food stations during that
cruise. So I guess that they should have listed this round of
renovations as Fun Ship 1.5.
Past Guest Program
We are rated as Gold Members of Carnival’s Past Guest Program and we
were invited to the Past Guest party. We only need to book 13 more
days on Carnival to reach their Platinum level at 75 days.
There were plenty of other things to do on aboard for all interests.
They had the usual plethora of bingo games and art auctions as well
as poolside games. For kids, they had something called Beary Cuddly
where you could buy stuffed animals along with outfits for them.
We took advantage of the several trivia games (which we enjoy) they
offered during the cruise. We met up with several friendly people
and we enjoyed their company and conversations. We won 2 “Ship on a
Stick” trophies and a set of medals playing at those games.
The casino is open during times at sea. We do not gamble, so we
cannot comment on the slots and gaming tables.
They had a variety of musical options on board to entertain people
at various locations and times.
The Hot Tub Rhythm Band played in the Red Frog Pub most evenings.
They had two solo guitarists; Dustin and Wonder that played by the
lido deck pool, the atrium stage, or the casino stage.
In Sam’s Piano Bar, Russell was playing most nights.
The two musicians called Duo Murano played music for dancing at the
DJ Goa spun his tunes by the lido pool and at the disco
Cory Rogers (Tennessee), the cruise director was very visible. He
had a morning TV show, attended most events, and could be seen
walking around. We thought he did a great job as a CD. The rest of
the cruise staff were very friendly, especially Abbey (Kentucky),
Hailey (California), Gary (Glasgow), and Peter (Liverpool).
We did see the captain at the first of the cruise elegant nights.
Our room steward Agus was assigned 24 cabins to service during our
cruise with his team. He did a terrific job meeting our requests and
making sure that the cabin was cleaned and prepped twice every day.
We always had fresh ice in the bucket waiting for us as well.
We enjoyed our cruise on the Miracle. We had terrific weather and
calm seas. We liked the 3 ports on this itinerary.
The cruise director staff were fantastic. They were everywhere
interacting with the passengers with activities and in the lounges.
They were a fun group of people. Kudos to Cory and his team.
The house band in the Red Frog Pub. They were great at playing a
wide variety of music during the cruise.
The food in the Horatio’s Buffet, especially the Asian Station and
the dessert station.
The itinerary with 3 port visits in Mexico. I am glad we got to
Production shows in the Phantom Theater. We really miss the full
production shows especially “Ticket to Ride” which is a great show
for Beatles fans and our favorite of the shows we have seen on
Carnival cruises. The Playlist production shows seem empty and
lacking even though the singers are terrific.
Seating for the Punchliner Comedy Club. I would think that they
could recognize the draw of certain comics and utilize the Phantom
Theater to accommodate everyone (bonus, more people sitting down
means more drink sales).
The only negative in the buffet was the hamburgers from the grill by
the pools which were always overcooked and dry. (Hint, hint: add a
Guy’s Burger on board).
Guide & Cruise
Cruise Diva's Blog
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